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A touch interface that sandwiches a thin air pocket between two layers - top layer is semiflexible and the bottom layer has a fine mesh of 'air switches'. Combined with an air pump these inflate/deflate sections of the semi-flexible top layer very quickly. Perhaps the sandwiched layer is really composed
of pockets seperated by rigid semi-permeable walls. Another option is to use very quick switching in the air switch mesh.
If air pressure variation is measured using a sensor grid in the bottom layer, that could sense user touch.
This was originally an update to Ferrofluid touch interface (see link) but a user suggested i make this a seperate idea. This is better suited to a touchscreen because air is transparent. :)
Another related idea
Ferrofluid touch interface [sonam, Feb 05 2009]
anti gravity balls
Cool MIT proposed touch 3D interface [theircompetitor, May 19 2012]
||Is this 'air' as in 'air guitar'?
||are there arrays of air valves available? If so, why not use the electro mechanical part to directly interface with the user? The Ferrofluid Idea had the nice touch of no-moving-parts (apart from the fluid motion), but this seems a little Rube Goldberg [+], yet is too straightforward [-].
Let's have the electromechanical arrays tickle large uniform skin grafts to form special goosebump-patterns.
||Loonqwal: I guess that's a fair question and the answer may be yes. I searched Google for "array of air valves MEMS" (MEMS = micromechanical technology) and got a result stating:
"Development of a MEMS Microvalve Array for Fluid Flow Control ... . A MEMS microvalve array for fluid flow control has been. developed. ..."
||Direct Link: http://tinyurl.com/bhep7a
||Direct electromechnical interaction works (I think some braille displays do this) but again its complicated since it has the disadvantage of requiring direct actuators interaction with the user. The air valves in my idea are merely tiny control elements sitting above a pressurized 'bed' - a layer of high pressure air which the valves selectively bleed through to specific areas above to interact with the user ( i guess i didn't make this clear in my idea)